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First-of-its-Kind Broiler House Will Feature a Viewing Room
When Danielle Hayden first moved to her husband’s poultry and cattle operation in Philpot, Kentucky, she wasn’t sure what she was getting herself into. “I didn’t know what to think or feel about this farm that I was now a part of,” she says. “The more I got to know and experience, the more it changed what I thought about the poultry industry. If people could see it, they’d discover it’s not a scary thing. If they understood, they’d know there’s nothing to hide.”
This desire to create transparency led to a wild idea. “I had this dream of a glass barn,” explains Hayden. She put the idea online in 2014, shortly after her move to the farm. While there was some positive response, she says the poultry industry was terrified of the idea.
“Instead, we decided if we built more poultry barns, we’d add a viewing room onto the control center,” says Hayden.
This year, Hayden’s dream came true. Hayden Farms, which includes Hayden’s husband, Daniel, and his parents, Joan and Martin Hayden, built four new broiler chicken houses. One of these state-of-the-art barns will be the first in the U.S. to include a viewing room.
The viewing room is an extension of the control room, which is placed in the middle of the barn. Visitors can enter the large control room and find a seat to experience the ins and outs of a modern poultry house without risking biosecurity of the flock. Four large windows allow visitors to easily see all of the controls as well as the 30,000-chicken facility.
“Visitors can sit and experience it themselves without being influenced by the media,” says Hayden, adding that the view into the control room shows “how technology benefits the poultry industry and agriculture, in general.”
Although the poultry industry wasn’t on board initially with the level of transparency Hayden was after, it did come around to support her vision. Perdue Farms, who the Haydens contract-grow for, heard about the project and offered to fund the viewing room.
“That got our heads spinning about what was possible,” says Hayden. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could host people? If we could give them more of an experience.’ ”
As the vision grew to include hosting farm-to-table dinners, cooking classes, and, Hayden’s favorite idea, yoga classes on the farm, the family decided to build an education building.
With a $60,000 grant from the Kentucky Ag Development Fund and $60,000 in matching funds from groups like the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, Kentucky Soybean Association, and the Farm Credit of Mid-America, that vision also became a reality.
The education building has a large room for presentations and events and a kitchen. It will feature displays such as one that shows how the water and feed system works in the chicken barns. This summer, a pollinator garden will be added outside to show the importance of bees to agriculture.
The goal is to host one or two groups a month, as time allows with Hayden’s photography business and the family’s farming responsibilities.
In anticipation of the viewing room and the education building, Hayden Farms launched a website at the end of 2017.
“With this project and dream coming to life, we realized we would have to share our story with the community,” Hayden says.
While Hayden has been sharing her story for four years on her personal blog – Danisquared.com – the family decided it was time for a separate website and social media profiles for the farm.
“My advice to someone starting a brand is don’t forget who you are and don’t be afraid to put your personality into your brand. Talk about agriculture, but don’t shove science down people’s throats,” advises Hayden. “Be you and be authentic.”